Mumbai is a city of dreamers and doers. It's India's financial powerhouse, and it pulses with life. There's a lot to see and discover in this metropolis, but if you're constrained by time and you only have a day, then skim through this article for the perfect 24 hours.
Gateway of India
Start early to catch the first boat from the Gateway of India to the Elephanta caves at 9 a.m. The former is a stone arch built in 1911 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, and the latter is a sneak peek into ancient history. Let the Gateway of India be your gateway to this city of lights, drama, and action.
Delve into the past by visiting the centuries old Elephanta Caves. Built between the 5th and 8th century BC, the seven caves on Elephanta Island are carved from the hillside. They're filled with beautiful carvings and stunning structures, and are an extraordinary example of rock-cut architecture in India. It will take an hour for you to reach the island by ferry, which means you will be back by at least noon, if not later.
After returning to the harbour by noon or 1 p.m., it's time for you to eat the best meal of your life in Mumbai. No exaggerations here, Indians love food and are very particular about what they eat. The nearest restaurant and my suggestion is the Masala Kraft in the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, which is right across from the Gateway of India. Masala Kraft is known for its contemporary twist on traditional Indian cuisine, and you're sure to be amazed by its sumptious delicacies. You can also eat at any of the other nearby restaurants such as Bombay Vintage, Lemon Leaf, Koyla and/or Indigo to taste the many spices of India.
After lunch, you have two options. You can either go on a shopping spree in the fashionable Colaba Shopping Street, or at 2:30 p.m. see the famous dabbawallahs packing lunch boxes at Chhatrapati Shivaji, a.k.a. Victoria Terminus. The 5,000 dabbawalahs have been diligently delivering home-cooked meals picked up from the houses of the 200,000 office workers every day since 1890. They make only one mistake in every 6 million deliveries, using an astonishingly precise system of colour-coded boxes.
Haji Ali Darga
By 3 p.m. start heading towards the south of Worli to visit the beautiful Haji Ali Dargah built in 1431. The high tide days are special as the walkway to the Dargah gets submerged, and you can see the white marble shrine floating in the middle of the sea. Don't forget to grab a banta (lemon soda with Indian spices) or fresh juice from the Haji Ali Juice Centre nearby. This will act as a cooling agent in the scorching heat of Mumbai.